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The realities of being a foster parent

Digital Journalist Erica Hernandez talks about her first month as a foster parent

SAN ANTONIO – Last fall, my husband and I became licensed to foster to adopt.

There were numerous classes, certifications, inspections and home visits that are a part of that process.

You basically give up your privacy and have everything questioned and inspected by officials.

After anxiously waiting for almost two months, we finally got the call for our first placement.

We were feeling so many emotions the day our little girl would be dropped off at our home.

The first day was a blur — it was just us making her comfortable and getting her situated.

By day two, the apparent “honeymoon phase” was over, and the tantrums began.

Being first-time parents, the tantrums made life difficult.

While we were taught and trained on all kinds of scenarios on how children in foster care might behave, nothing can prepare you enough for the actual moment it happens.

I get it... most toddlers throw tantrums. But a child who was neglected and has had many traumatic experiences acts out in a different way.

The first week was extremely hard on all three of us.

I had many breakdowns and moments of just plain crying. Nothing we did seemed to work.

When we first got our little girl, we weren’t told her whole story. We would get little pieces of her story from her caseworker, our fostering agency and even her CASA volunteer. Most of this information would have been great to have on the first day, but it just doesn’t work that way.

After a week, we finally got a better understanding of just how traumatic her life had been.

We then started approaching how we talked to her differently and started giving her options.

My husband and I reached out to other foster parents who offered the best advice and ways to deal with certain situations.

After two weeks, things finally started to get a little better.

It really does take a village when it comes to parenting a child. Our family, friends and new foster family community have helped out in so many ways.

Our little girl is strong, brave and a joy to be around. She has challenged us in more ways than we can have ever expected, but its been a journey that I’m glad we took and I can’t wait to see what our future holds.

I hope the hardships of our journey don’t discourage anybody from becoming a foster parent. There are so many kids that need someone to be patient with them and show them a loving, caring home. To that end, here are some things prospective and new foster parents should know.

WATCH: Digital Journalist Erica Hernandez steps into the News at 9 Breakdown Booth to talk about her experience as a first-time foster parent

5 Tips Every New Foster Parents Should Know

  • Be prepared for many appointments, visits, and phone calls. While most can be done on what works best on your schedule, some will interrupt your work schedule. It can still be done if both parents work full-time.
  • Reach out to other foster parents. This has helped me tremendously. I’ve joined a local Facebook group and have a few go-to foster parents I can text or call anytime if I need help or have a question.
  • Stay organized. There is so much paperwork that has to be kept up to date and turned in monthly.
  • Your relationship with your spouse and well-being is very important. My husband and I are a great team and when either of us needs a break we insist on each other taking it. We have made it a point to schedule date-nights once a month and are very lucky we have a great support system that allows us to do this.
  • Enjoy the ride!! Nobody ever said this would be easy, and it may have slapped me in the face at first, but I try to capture all the great memories we have with our little and seeing her smile is all worth it.

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